Leisure and Culture in Essex


Note that due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, many planned events across Essex will have been cancelled, and venues may be closed (fully or partially) until further notice. Please regularly check the Visit Essex website and event pages for updates and/or rescheduled dates.

There’s no shortage of things to do, places to visit and activities to get involved in in Essex… whether you’re a sporty spectator, gym regular, like to try something new on a day out – or enjoy a spot of culture and entertainment… there’s something for us all.


Sport and Leisure

Active Essex, the County Sports Partnership, in partnership with the Unitary and District Councils offers a high-quality mix of sport and physical activity facilities and services – for families and people of all ages – including the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike Centre at Hadleigh Park. The primary aims include increasing participation, encouraging healthy and active lifestyles and encouraging lifelong learning and skills development. More resources available on the Get Active website.

There is ample opportunity, both indoors and outdoors, for sport and leisure days out for all members of the family across the whole county, from bowling, golfing, ice and roller skating, trampolining, horse riding, go karting, winter sports, water sports, fishing, paintballing, laser tag and so much more… as well as a wide variety of gyms and health and leisure centres to make the most of.

If you’re more of a spectator, there’s no shortage of sporting venues where you can cheer on your local teams and sportspeople; there’s something for all interests, from football and rugby stadiums, cricket grounds, racecourses, motorsport race tracks, BMX tracks and more.

Check out some below:

Chelmsford City Racecourse

Essex County Cricket Club

Northern Gateway Sports Park

JobServe Community Stadium


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Festivals and Events

There’s a wealth of events and festivals that run in Essex throughout the year; from music and art events, to craft fairs, food and drink festivals, seasonal markets, outdoor cinemas and more…

Some regular events running annually include Clacton Airshow, 3Foot Festival, Essex Pride – you can find out more on the Visit Essex website.

Art, Theatre and Culture

A county full of history and culture, there’s many places to visit to learn more about Essex – and the wider world – and enjoy some entertainment and culture. With so many galleries, theatres and museums to choose from, there’s something for all tastes. Search on Visit Essex for places to visit near you, but make sure to plan your trip in advance to check for guidance and opening hours.

Firstsite, Colchester – with free admission and exhibitions, workshops and events running year round

Tiptree Jam Museum, Tiptree – based within a renovated farm building, visitors can see how village life used to be and how the process of preserve-making has changed over the years

Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar – the longest heritage railway in Essex, a great visit to transport you back to bygone times and learn more about the evolution of travel and local history

New Hall Vineyard, Chelmsford – a family-run English wine producer, open to customers for wine tasting and walking trails, where you can learn more about English wine and the history of the vineyard

Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea – iconic performing arts theatre moments away from the Southend sea front, with shows, concerts and performances running all year round

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